Monday, August 26, 2013

Isaiah, Syria, Spying

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day.  But didn't you laugh at Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Wag The Kennel"?

wag the kennel

That's a great comic.  I really love it.  And we don't need to attack Syria.  Justin Raimondo ( offers:

Those rollicking jihadists, the Syrian rebels, love a joke: although they can be deadly serious – such as when they’re eating the internal organs of their enemies – what they enjoy more than anything is a really good prank. There was the time they claimed the Assad regime was killing babies in incubators – not very original, but hey, it worked for the Kuwaitis! Then there was the "massacre" at Houla, which was alleged to have killed 32 children and over 60 adults: a photo started appearing in the mainstream media, documenting the slaughter. The state-supported BBC was first to run with it – until it was discovered the supposedly incriminating photo was taken in Iraq during the recent war. The photographer was justifiably furious, the story was withdrawn, and the Syrian rebels went back to the drawing board.
I could go on for quite a while about the various Syrian hoaxes we’ve been subjected to, but let’s get down to the latest one – a claim Syrian government forces used nerve gas at the Syrian village known as Ghouta. Videos posted by the rebels show rows of people killed or incapacitated without any dramatic indications of physical trauma: instead, the victims display convulsions and other signs of exposure to asphyxiating gases. Yet, as Ha’aretz reports:
"Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
"Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: ‘None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,’ he says, ‘and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.’"

On spying,  Natasha Hakimi (Information Clearing House) has an important article:

August 26, 2013 "Information Clearing House -   The latest leaks on the NSA disclosed that it gave millions of dollars to several tech companies for their help with PRISM, the data mining program that allows the agency to collect private information on seemingly anyone it chooses. It may come as a shock to many that Google’s among the companies that received a hefty monetary compensation for its compliance in these surveillance endeavors, especially after the company point-blank denied it, stating, “Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”

I'd quote more but it's a really short article.  Hopefully, the above got your attention and you've already clicked to read it in full.

Okay, new edition of Third went up Sunday and Dallas worked on it and so did:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And this is what we came up with:

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, August 26, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi government advises people to check cars for bombs before driving them, a US official condemns the use of chemical weapons . . . apparently forgetting the US used them in Falluja, Michael Ratner discusses the military verdict against Chelsea Manning, War Hawks flutter their wings as they lust for war on Syria, and more.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), Michael Ratner gave a report on the Manning verdict.  Please note, Michael was speaking on the day, Wednesday, right after the verdict was declared.  The next morning, Manning would release the statement that she now wanted to called Chelsea Manning.  Had that statement been made before the segment was recorded, Michael's comments would have reflected that.  I'm stressing that because I don't want anyone wrongly assuming Michael was being transphobic.  When he did the segment, Chelsea was still going by the name Bradley.

Michael Ratner:  You know, some people are saying the sentence wasn't so long because he was facing 136 years and then he was facing 90 but that's outrageous.  35 years is a completely off the wall sentence.  First of all, he shouldn't have been prosecuted at all.  That's been the Center for Constitutional Rights position. It's my position.  He's a whistle-blower.  He exposed torture, criminality, killing of civilians.  He should not have been prosecuted.  At all.  And then what happens is they over prosecute him to the extent that they did.  They make whistle-blowers into spies.  They charge him with all these years.  And then people are relieved when he gets 35 years?  Let me tell you, that's no relief.  He's 25-years-old.  Assuming he were to get the best credit he could, he's going to do at least a minimum of 20 more years -- a very long sentence for someone who actually gave us the truth about Iraq, about Iran, about the helicopter video that killed the Reuters' journalists, about the diplomatic cables that gave us the secret war in Yemen, the revelations about the [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali corrupt government in Tunisia that helped bring on the Arab Spring.  He's a hero.  The people who committed the crimes, sadly, are still in our government, enjoying their lives.  They're the ones that ought to be prosecuted.  And I don't want it heard that he -- Bradley Manning -- should have been prosecuted at all but particularly, of course, while these criminals are out there with complete immunity.

Michael Smith: How is the trial set up to get this result?

Michael Ratner:  Well they first overcharged him with six espionage counts plus aiding the enemy count.  It was a judge trial, it was a military trial so it was under the military jurisdiction.  It was at Fort Meade, very close to the National Security Agency, so you can imagine how they feel about someone who is spilling their dirty secrets and their criminality -- they don't think highly.  It's a very severe sentence.  You know the Center has actually has in the past -- Bill Kunstler has as well with us -- represented people who actually sold their secrets to either the Soviet Union or others and those people didn't receive as severe a sentence.  But we're really in a time in which you can say there's a sledge hammer being taken against whistle-blowers and it's just -- I find it unbelievable, to me, that someone who's information we need so badly and an utterly secret government is being is being sentenced -- or has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Michael Smith:  What role did Obama play in this and what demands can we make to get him [Manning] out?

Michael Ratner:  Well Obama's the commander in chief so ultimately he controls it.  Obama's role was not good.  He actually influenced the trial, in my view.  But I think they probably would have convicted him in any case.  But he's the one who said basically he's guilty -- that's command influence.  He shouldn't have been tried after that.  The demand now is that Obama pardon him and give him clemency -- pardon or give him clemency.  That's the demand of the Bradley Manning Support Committee and it should be all of our demand. 

Michael Smith:  Daniel Ellsberg had his case dismissed.  And that was a time when there was a massive anti-war movement in the streets.  Would you say that because we lack that now, they were able to bludgeon Manning?  

Michael Ratner:  You know, I think that there's a growing movement, particularly after Snowden, but there's no question that having a huge movement like we had during the Ellsberg case is what got, ultimately, Ellsberg out of that espionage charge.  There's a growing movement in this country as more and more comes out.  Let's just remember what a leader Bradley Manning is.  Because of Bradley Manning, I think that people like Ed Snowden came forward.  They understand that when they see criminality, they're young people of conscience and they act on it.  And we should be very proud of each of these people.  

Michael Smith:  Michael, you've got to run, you're at Fort Meade, everyone wants to hear from you.  You got any last thoughts before you take off?

Michael Ratner:  My last thoughts are, we're in one of the nastiest administrations on record.  It's going after the truth tellers.  We have to support Bradley Manning, we have to support Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown and the others out there.  And this is only part of their criminality [the government's criminality].  Exposing their criminality is what this is about and they don't want that.

I have slammed David Coombs (and stand by that slam) for refusing to give interviews when Chelsea was known as Bradley.  I stand by that criticism.  That's when coverage was needed -- before a verdict.  I made a comment last week that if Heidi Boghosian had been Chelsea's attorney she would have done that.  An angry e-mail insists I have no way of knowing that.  Yes, I do.  First, Heidi knows the law and knows how to represent clients.  Second, she's demonstrated this repeatedly.  You only have to look to work on Mumia's case to see that.  Mumia Abu Jamal does weekly commentaries and has maintained his journalism even while in prison.  But that didn't mean Heidi said, "Oh, he's got his weekly commentaries on the radio, that's enough."  Every time she's visited or she's received an update, she has amplified it on Law and Disorder and to any press she could.  You can also look to Michael Ratner.  Why was he at the military proceeding against Chelsea Manning?

Because he represents Julian Assange.  And he will go on any program to defend his client.  He will speak to any press outlet to defend his client.  That's what smart attorneys do.  The Michaels talk about a larger movement being needed for Chelsea Manning.  Such a movement is not built when the client is unable to speak to the press (the government had locked Chelsea Manning away for three years) and the attorney is unwilling to. 

On the US government's illegal spying, Nell Abrams (Free Speech Radio News) explained today, "The German weekly Der Spiegel has released more details of US spying activities gleaned from documents made public by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The classified information reveals that the National Security Agency, or NSA, bugged European Union embassies in New York and Washington, D.C. and hacked into their computer systems.  Breaking at  least three international agreements that ban spying at the United Nations, the NSA also broke  into the UN’s internal video meeting network and stationed undercover agent there cloaked as diplomats. And operatives are also   disguised as diplomats in 80 embassies and consulates worldwide. Contrary to recent remarks by President Obama that U.S. spying is solely intended to combat terrorism, Der Speigel reports that intelligence agents are targeting information related to economic stability,  trade policy,  energy security and food products."

There are so many revelations on the illegal spying that it can be difficult to keep track.  We heard that Friday when we were speaking to a group.  Today, I passed around Bill Quigley's "13 Things the Government is Trying to Keep Secret From You" (CounterPunch) to a group and this helped put it all perspective.  Use the link for Quigley's article but we're grabbing his 13 points for the snapshot (in the article, he explains each one, so use the links):

One.  The Government seizes and searches all internet and text communications which enter or leave the US
Two. The Government created and maintains secret backdoor access into all databases in order to search for information on US citizens
 Three.  The Government operates a vast database which allows it to sift through millions of records on the internet to show nearly everything a person does
Four.  The Government has a special court which meets in secret to authorize access for the FBI and other investigators to millions and millions of US phone, text, email and business records 

Five.  The Government keeps Top Secret nearly all the decisions of the FISA court

Six.  The Government is fighting to keep Top Secret a key 2011 decision of the FISA court even after the court itself said it can be made public

Seven.  The Government uses secret National Security Letters (NSL) issued by the FBI to seize tens of thousands of records
Eight.  The National Security Head was caught not telling the truth to Congress about the surveillance of millions of US citizens

Nine.  The Government falsely assured the US public in writing that privacy protections are significantly stronger than they actually are and Senators who knew better were not allowed to disclose the truth 
Ten.  The chief defender of spying in the House of Representatives, the Chair of the oversight intelligence subcommittee, did not tell the truth or maybe worse did not know the truth about surveillance

 Eleven.  The House intelligence oversight committee repeatedly refused to provide basic surveillance information to elected members of the House of Representatives, Republican and Democrat

 Twelve.  The paranoia about secrecy of surveillance is so bad in the House of Representatives that an elected member of Congress was threatened for passing around copies of the Snowden disclosures which had been already printed in newspapers worldwide

Thirteen.  The Senate oversight committee refused to allow a dissenting Senator to publicly discuss his objections to surveillance

Today on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR -- link is audio and text), guest host Frank Sesno moderated a discussion on Syria with Susan Glasser (POLITICO), Joshua Landis (Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma) and David Schenker (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) which was much stronger than the crap offered the previous Friday.  As Ava and I noted in "Media: Pimping War," Friday's second hour of the program, guest hosted by the hideous Tom Gjelten, kicked off with 15 minutes of basically calling US President Barack Obama a p**sy for not  bombing Syria.  Warren Strobel and Barbara Slavin were outright itching for war and ridiculing him.  We have on problem with the ridicule of any government official, but as Ava and I pointed out:

NPR refuses to question the credibility of the administration with regards to spying on the American people, despite one revelation after another, despite one lie after another.  But the network explains that if Barack "doesn't react in some more forceful way" with Syria, he will lose credibility. Those are the priorities when media whores gather.

Friday, while NPR pimped war, Jason Ditz ( pointed out, "Officials continue hyping Wednesday’s allegations of a chemical weapons strike, saying that they believe such an attack probably happened even though they don’t have any actual proof to back that up." The doubts continue today.  No proof has yet emerged of anything.

The Diane Rehm Show features a photo of an apparently able-bodied man, able to hold a sign aloft, one that declares, "Dear Free World Enjoy Watching Us Burn."  If you're so bothered, Mr. Coward, get your chicken ass out of Lebanon (where the photo was taken) and fight for your damn country.  In other word, Baby Chicken S**t, stop expecting someone else to fight battles your too damn scared to fight. (And probably not a good idea to echo Rhianna's tag in a song on your poster when the song she sings "just gonna stand there and watch me burn" is entitled "Love The Way You Lie."  Just saying.)

Yesterday, on The KPFA Evening News, Glenn Reeder spoke with Conn Hallinan (Foreign Policy In Focus) about the alleged gassing.

Conn Hallinan:  The problem is that you can't talk about the [President Bashar al-] Assad government and the insurgency.  There are, I don't know, five or six different variations of the insurgency.  Even the Gulf Cooperation Council -- which is the group of monarchies that support the insurgency -- they don't see eye to eye. Saudi Arabia has locked horns with Qatar because Saudi Arabia is extremely anti-Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.  So the two of them are locked in a competition over the insurgency not only in Syria but also in the recent coup in Egypt.  So we don't know who all the actors are here.  I mean when someone says, 'Would we do this to ourselves?,' there isn't any 'we' in Syria, there isn't any unified 'we' in Syria to this.

Glenn Reeder:  You're talking about the opposition.

Conn Hallinan:  Absolutely.  Anyone could have done this.  And again this is not to say that I entirely rule out that the Assad government didn't do this or that someone in the military didn't do this.  It's just that, when you line up all of the ducks, they're not in a row and I think at this point you have to fall back on sort of old school journalism: You know, if your mother tells you that she loves you, you need three unimpeachable sources to be sure about that.  And I think that this is one of those cases.  The Syrian government has agreed to the investigation so let's see where the investigation goes at this point.

Glenn Reeder:  Okay, if it turns out that hundreds of civilians were gassed, does it matter who did it? In terms of whether the US -- or the West -- but we're -- let's just stick to the US -- should become involved?  I mean, despite what are now rivers of innocent blood flowing, should outsiders stand aside and let the country fight it out the way the US did in the deadliest war in United States history, the Civil War?

Conn Hallinan:  Yeah, exactly.  I mean, here's the problem.  Let's say the United States and France and Britain get involved and probably involve Turkey to a certain extent too -- what does it mean? On the simplest level it could mean that the United States would attempt to eliminate the Syrian air force which they could do fairly easily.  And they wouldn't even have to use airplanes to do it, they could do it with Tomahawks, they could do it with stand off missiels  they could pretty much take out the Syrian air force.  Okay, so what?  You still have this stalemate going on.  So you say, 'Well okay, we're going to invade and we're going to overthrow the Assad government.'  Okay.  So you overthrow the Assad government and that would be more difficult to do but it's possible you could certainly do it.  And then what?  And then you get in a fight with the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant -- what do you do with the Kurds?  I mean, this makes Afghanistan look like a cakewalk.  This is one of the most important Arab countries in the Middle East and the United States or its allies are going to intervene in its civil war?  This is going to be -- it's going to be just a disaster.  And I can't -- I can't  -- When I start thinking about all the dominoes that are going to come down from this one, it's very sobering.   The United States doesn't particularly want to do this.  And if you recall there was this report last week from the Joint-Chiefs of Staff of where they said basically we don't -- as far as the war goes -- we couldn't make a difference but if we won it for the other side, those people wouldn't be our allies.  And they wouldn't.

The report Conn Hallinan is referring to is reports on a letter from the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey, which is now online and you can read it [PDF format warning] at the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Democratic Party website:

To the specific point in your letter, there are certainly actions short of tipping the balance of the conflict that could impose a cost on them [Syrian government] for unacceptable behavior.  We can destroy the Syrian Air Force.  The loss of Assad's Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict.  In a variety of ways, the use of U.S. military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic, ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.
Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides.  It is my belief that thr side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor.  Today, they are not.  The crisis in Syria is tragic and complex.  It is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad's rule ends.  We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.  

That's from a private letter to US House Rep Eliot Engel  which Engel then leaked to the Associated Press (Dempsey knows Engel leaked it) as part of Engel's decade long war against Syria.  It's not just that he teamed with Bully Boy Bush on this, it's also that Engel is seen as representing the interests of the Israeli government in the US Congress and not the interests of the people who voted him into Congress.  Those ties to the Israeli government do not help his cause on the international stage.

On Syria, I was asked by a friend with The Nation if I would weigh in on something. Bob Dreyfuss has a piece calling for calm in the face of cries for war on Syria:

 Now, however, with the usual suspects on the right calling for blood, expect the White House to come under heavy pressure from liberal imperialists and others -- including Secretary of State Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice -- to take aggressive action.

If I have the right article, I was told Valerie Jarrett's name was in the list, this is what I'm weighing in on.  Dreyfuss got called out for a piece a little while back which included Jarrett, Power, Hillary Clinton and maybe Rice.  I didn't weigh in because I hadn't read it and didn't hear of it until after there was a mini-tsunami.  If someone feels Dreyfuss or anyone is writing something sexist, they should absolutely call it out. I'm not a Dreyfuss fan, that's been noted here before.  I have no desire to rescue him from criticism.

But if Dreyfuss is covering the administration (and he is) and women in the administration are pushing for something (and they and John Kerry are), his noting women pushing for something or his calling them out for pushing for something is not sexism.  Women can be called out for their actions.  This can be done kindly or rudely.  As can happen when calling out men.  Tone doesn't matter and he can mock them and that's not sexism.  It only is sexist if he's mocking them using sexist stereotypes. Calling out women, in and of itself, for promoting war is not sexism.  Apparently when the piece was published (I think Friday or Saturday -- I'm going by the phone call details), a small round of "He's being sexist!" started up.  As the piece was explained to me, Jarrett's name was in it (Kerry's wasn't).  But Bob Dreyfuss calling out Jarret, Rice and Power is not sexism.  His mocking them is not sexism.  And let's refrain, please, from stupid notion that 'we haven't had three powerful women before so we shouldn't criticize!'  That's as stupid as refraining from criticizing Barack due to his skin tone.

In echoes of the rush to war on Iraq, US government officials insist Syria has gassed their own.  (There's no proof of that and with UN inspectors fired on today -- it would seem more likely that rebels either were behind a gassing or didn't want the alleged incident investigated.)   Saddam Hussein, we were told by Bully Boy Bush and others, gassed his own.  This was shocking!  This was chemical warfare!  The US government was outraged that chemical warfare would be used on a people!!!!  Clearly, such outrage meant, the US would never tolerate or aid in chemical weapons being used on a people!

But . . .  Press TV reports today:

Newly declassified CIA documents show that the United States had a hand in Iraq’s deadly chemical attacks on Iran during the 1980-1988 war against the Islamic Republic, a new report says.
During the war, the Iraqi military attacked Iran several times using mustard gas and sarin with the help of satellite imagery, maps and other intelligence provided by the US government, the Foreign Policy magazine said, citing CIA documents and interviews with former US intelligence officials.
US officials have long denied having knowledge of the US involvement but retired Air Force Colonel Rick Francona, a then military attaché in Baghdad, said the American officials knew of Iraq’s intention.
"The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn't have to. We already knew," Francona told Foreign Policy.

Fars News Agency picks up the story as well but brings in current claims regarding Syria:

The US government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus, while there is no clue to throw the responsibility for the attack on anyone's shoulder, except for the common sense which says rebels should be blamed. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy said in a report.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. US intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on US satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.

Remember the above when US officials pretend to be alarmed by chemical warfare.  Also remember the Guardian report by George Monbiot from November 2005:

Until last week, the US state department maintained that US forces used white phosphorus shells "very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes". They were fired "to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters". Confronted with the new evidence, on Thursday it changed its position. "We have learned that some of the information we were provided ... is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, ie obscuring troop movements and, according to... Field Artillery magazine, 'as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes...' The article states that US forces used white phosphorus rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds." The US government, in other words, appears to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja as a chemical weapon.
The invaders have been forced into a similar climbdown over the use of napalm in Iraq. In December 2004, the Labour MP Alice Mahon asked the British armed forces minister Adam Ingram "whether napalm or a similar substance has been used by the coalition in Iraq (a) during and (b) since the war". "No napalm," the minister replied, "has been used by coalition forces in Iraq either during the war-fighting phase or since."
This seemed odd to those who had been paying attention. There were widespread reports that in March 2003 US marines had dropped incendiary bombs around the bridges over the Tigris and the Saddam Canal on the way to Baghdad. The commander of Marine Air Group 11 admitted that "We napalmed both those approaches". Embedded journalists reported that napalm was dropped at Safwan Hill on the border with Kuwait. In August 2003 the Pentagon confirmed that the marines had dropped "mark 77 firebombs". Though the substance these contained was not napalm, its function, the Pentagon's information sheet said, was "remarkably similar". While napalm is made from petrol and polystyrene, the gel in the mark 77 is made from kerosene and polystyrene. I doubt it makes much difference to the people it lands on.

 Last week,  Kelley B. Vlahos asked "WHO Is Delaying Release of Iraqi Birth Defect Data?" (

 Observers say they are on the cusp of getting the hard evidence needed to prove Iraqis are suffering from a disproportionate rate of birth defects and cancers, likely due to massive pollution caused by the war.
So what’s the problem? Or should we say, WHO is the problem?
As in the World Health Organization.
WHO is the public health arm of the United Nations and is tasked with "providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends." Currently, WHO is "providing technical assistance" to the Iraq Ministry of Health (MOH) in a much anticipated study of congenital health defects in 18 Iraqi districts, including Fallujah and Basra – places that have reported high rates of babies born with horrifying maladies since the war began. Basra, consequently, has reported higher incidents of cancer, too, since the first Persian Gulf War. See some of Antiwar’s previous coverage here.
The problem is, the results of the study, which began in May 2012, were expected in early 2013. Both medical and human rights advocates are wondering why they have been delayed – as of today, indefinitely. They want answers now.

Iraqis know the answers.  Everyone pretty much does around the world.  But WHO pronouncing the obvious will give weight to the reality that the US government used chemical weapons on the Iraqi people.   In June,  Alsumaria reported that congenital malformations and rates of cancer are extremely high as a result of the uranium munitions the US military used.  It's no longer unusual for a child to be born with two heads or with just one eye, the report explains, and the health statistics are much worse than in Japan in the aftermath of the US using the atomic bombs.  In Falluja, children born with deformities account for 14.7% of all births.   The report notes that although Iraq has a population estimated at 31 million, there are only 20,000 medical doctors and just over 100 psychotherapists in the country.

Again, the answers are known.  But the medical studies thus far are dismissed and largely ignored in a manner that a finding from the World Health Organization can't be.  It's exactly because such a report carries so much weight that Barack's administration has done everything it can to prevent the release of the report.  Doug Weir (New Left Project) observed earlier this month:

Paediatrician Dr Samira Al’aani has worked in the city since 1997. In 2006 she began to notice an increase in the number of babies being born with congenital birth defects (CBD). Concerned, she began to log the cases that she saw. Through careful record keeping she has determined that at Fallujah General Hospital, 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. This is nearly six times higher than the average rate in the UK between 2006 and 2010, and one strong suspicion is that contamination from the toxic constituents of munitions used by occupying forces could be the cause. Now a new nationwide study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, has the potential to catalyse efforts to understand and confront the issue, but only if science can be allowed to rise above politics.

WHO offers this fact sheet on the study.  Felicity Arbuthnot (Pravda) notes a birth on the same day that Kate Middleton gave birth to George Alexander Louis:

On the same day, a universe away, in Falluja, Iraq - poisoned by weapons armed with uranium, chemically and radiologically toxic, and white phosphorous, a chemical weapon, and other so far unidentified "exotic weapons" - baby Humam was born. In a city relentlessly bombarded in 1991 and again in two further criminal, inhuman US decimations in 2004.
Humam was born with Retrognathia, a congenital heart disease , Omphalocele and Polydactly of upper and lower limbs. Omphalocele is an abnormality that develops as the the foetus is forming. Some of the abdominal organs protrude through an opening in the abdominal muscles in the area of the umbilical cord. Polydactly is the manifestation of extra digits on the hands or feet, in Humam's case, both.

Every day children are born in areas of Iraq with birth defects that are a direct result of the illegal war, covering up a report, hiding it, delaying it, will not change that fact.  Earlier this month, Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani (Al Jazeera) observed, "As scientists and public health professionals, we must respond in a timely fashion to global health emergencies and seek their causes. Delays and excuses cost lives that could have been saved."

If US officials are today outraged by the possibility that someone may have used chemical weapons in Syria, they should make sure that's not situational outrage -- meaning, they need to condemn the use of chemical weapons, by the US, in Iraq.  If they can't do that, they're just hypocrites.

Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry idiotically made a declaration (link is text and video):

 What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.

 I like John Kerry but he needs to learn to shut his mouth and stop trying to lead the administration.  He wants war on Syria, I don't.  That's not the issue.  The issue is the State Dept is over US efforts in Iraq currently.  That's where Kerry's in charge.  With that reality in mind, let's look at that statement one more time:

What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.

If those words really mean anything, Iraqis have every right to expect Kerry to speak out for them, especially when the WHO report is finally issued.  You never, as Secretary of State, paint yourself into a corner.  The Secretary now has painted himself into a corner and, in doing so, painted his Dept and the administration into one.   The State Dept is supposed to practice diplomacy which is another reason John Kerry should be a lot less quick on the draw and a little more concerned with dialogue.

Violence in Iraq yesterday was so bad that it even made it onto American TV via Sunday's  NBC Nightly News:

Guest Anchor Carl Quintanilla:  Still in the region, it was a very violent Sunday in Iraq where a wave of attacks claimed dozens of lives.  Many of the victims were people going about their normal affairs at a coffee shop, a wedding party and a security checkpoint.  The attacks are part of a months long wave of killings that is the country's worst fate of bloodshed since 2008, more signs that insurgents are pushing Iraq back to the brink of civil war.

Citing security sources, KUNA noted, 52 Iraqis were killed, among them five soldiers, and 119 injured in central Iraq on Sunday."  Press TV speaks with Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation's Sabah Jawad (link is video) who stated, "There are two reasons underlying this surge in the terrorist activities in Iraq.  Firstly, that there is the deep political divisions taking place in Iraq between the political parties including the government.  That doesn't help at all in fighting terrorism.  And the creations -- There are many institutions in Iraq that were created by the Americans therefore they're heavily infiltrated by the al Quds forces which support -- one way or another -- the terrorists' activities."   AFP adds, "Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has vowed to continue with an anti-insurgent campaign, which is one of the biggest since US forces withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, but analysts and diplomats say authorities have repeatedly failed to address the root causes of the violence."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) shares, "The bloodshed appears to mark a new round of violence to hit Iraq in recent months, much of it stemming from decades-old discord between the nation's Sunnis and Shiites, the two largest branches of Islam."

Aswat al-Iraq noted 3 nurses were killed in the Balad violence.  Just as  All Iraq News reports, "45 Indian nurses" will arrive to work in Najaf.

With Iraqi social media pegging the unemployment rate at over 18%, this news is not going over well.  It's been pointed out that nearly 200 nurses will have been imported to Iraq this month alone and that the government of Nouri al-Maliki, in place since 2006, could have long ago set up scholarships and fast-track programs for Iraqis to become nurses. We've touched on this topic here many times.  It remains one that the media chooses to ignore.

 National Iraqi News Agency reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers injured, a Wasit Province roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 person and left three more injured,  a Hilla mortar attack claimed 1 life and left three other people injured, a Baquba bombing claimed the lives of a mother and her child (another woman was injured), 1 man was shot dead in Basra, a Falluja clash left 1 rebel dead and two police officers injured,  a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of "a member of the military intelligence," 2 Mosul drive-by shootings left 5 people dead, a Falluja drive-by left 1 police officer killed and another injured,  .  AFP adds, "Militants in police uniforms claiming to be carrying out a security operation kidnapped and killed six men in a pre-dawn attack north of Baghdad, officials said."

 NINA also notes:

Interior Ministry called for citizens and drivers of vehicles to inspect their vehicles before driving.
The spokesman of the Baghdad Operations Command, Brigadier General Saad Maan, revealed, in a press statement, the intention of al-Qaeda to use sticky bombs as a means of killing and targeting innocent Iraqi people after the blows received by this terrorist organization in recent proactive operations (revenge of the martyrs).

That might seem to go without saying -- check your vehicle for a bomb before getting in it -- but clearly, on the day a "member of the military intelligence" apparently didn't do so, an announcement needs to be made.

Public announcements and mass arrests are all Nouri has to offer when it comes to addressing any crisis (that and calling everyone a 'terrorist').  And those 'tools' are not producing results.  Instead, they are making the situation much worse.  NINA notes:

The head of the Anbar provincial council, Sabah Karhoot al-Halbusi confirmed that "the military campaign in Tharthar area, northeast of Ramadi, has witnessed arbitrary arrests for innocent people". He told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The crackdown by the security forces in the Tharthar area northeast of Ramadi resulted in the arrest of / 65 / of innocent people, most of whom are fishermen."
He added that "the Anbar provincial council, through contacts with the security leaders, was able to release / 50 / detainees," noting that the number of wanted does not exceed / 15 / persons.

The provincial council's work does not erase the pain or the arrests or the humiliation of those 50 innocent people.  Nouri's actions are breeding violence.  Add to that, Iraqi Spring MC reports 6 people were arrested by Nouri's forces in al-Tarmia (part of Baghdad Province) and were later found dumped in the road, their heads chopped off.  The notion that you stop violence with violence isn't working for Nouri and hasn't for the last seven years.

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 685 violent deaths this month so far. And the month ends this week.  Which means the monthly death toll will be noted by a few press outlets.  W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports Nouri's government is undercounting and downplaying deaths:

The government has downplayed the number of deaths from attacks in its official statements, even as violence in Iraq has reached levels not seen since 2008.
It has also challenged media reports on unrest, saying some were as dangerous as attacks themselves.

That's only a surprise to people who didn't pay attention.  AFP and Prashant Rao did pay attention to the regular undercount the Iraqi government was providing.  That's why AFP now keeps its own death toll.  The fact that the news isn't surprising isn't meant as an insult to Dunlop.  This is news and good for him and AFP for reporting it.

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michael s. smith
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